Leaf age and light quality influence the basal resistance against Botrytis cinerea in strawberry leaves

Grey mold (Botrytis cinerea) can cause considerable damage during strawberry production due to the development of fruit rot. Damage to the fruit often manifests itself in the post-harvest phase, but can also occur earlier on leaves which then form a primary source of infection for the fruit. Resistance of the fungus to the known pesticides is increasing. In addition, the application of conventional fungicides is being increasingly restricted due to stricter maximum residue levels on harvested strawberries. We are therefore looking into alternative control applications.

LED applications

Previous studies have already shown that light quality makes up an important factor in the plant's defense against diseases. LED applications can therefore be promising. Prof. dr. Höfte and Prof. dr. Van Labeke (Ghent University) therefore studied the impact of light quality on the resistance of strawberry leaves.

Research results show that disease symptoms in leaves under red light greatly decrease. At the same time, however, the researchers saw that, regardless of the type of light, young leaves (1-2 weeks old) are more susceptible to the infection than, for example, leaves of 1 month old, after which the sensitivity again slightly increased. This effect was observed under all light colors tested, including white light.

Strawberry under LED light

Red light therefore offers perspectives as part of a control for Botrytis cinerea, but further research is required before this can be applied in practice. Currently, this research is also being extended to lettuce.

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